I spent the morning of my 35th birthday locked in the backseat of a police cruiser and the afternoon in the city police department.
I woke that morning, a crisp and clear winter day in Denver, kissed my husband goodbye, put on a down vest and went to work. My office was a corner one, in a sometimes drafty and sometimes too hot old Presbyterian church on the corner of Federal and 36th Street. I’d worked there for five months.
Within those five months, I’d also moved to Denver from Dallas, gotten married, bought a house, had a miscarriage, a husband who lost his job, and already more than one encounter with the police.
Three weeks before my birthday, my husband texted me and said, “Don’t come home. The house is caution-taped off and there are SWAT officers all around the house and in the back alley. I don’t know what’s going on.” I’d waited 34 years to meet and marry this man and in one text message, I felt the loss of him wash over me. Against better judgment, I got in my car and went home.
When I arrived home, a SWAT officer with a rifle escorted me into the back door of my home and told me to stay in. They’d shot and killed the felon they had been staking out all afternoon. Now the alley behind our home was a scene under investigation.
This happened the same week my car had been vandalized and burglarized in our driveway, its locks permanently gouged out while some friends enjoyed dinner and drinks with us at our kitchen table.
My new friends all protested to me how great our neighborhood was, how they’d lived there five, six, three, seven years and had never experienced a car break-in or had their home cordoned off and guarded by armed men in uniforms. This was before I knew much about gentrification and the effects of forcing out whole communities from their land and homes, so younger, whiter couples like my husband and I could move in and renovate historic homes with hip modifications.
I loved the current diversity in our neighborhood and didn’t even consider that a growing white presence meant more people of color had been forced to relocate to more affordable homes, farther and farther from their jobs, families, and roots. I knew the owner of my home before we bought it was only its third owner in over a hundred years, but that’s all I knew. I thought the history was quaint and made for a good story. I was ignorant.
. . .
I’m going to be sharing a long form piece I wrote about gun violence, but splitting it up into various parts for shorter reading. The gun violence I was witness to was not a school shooting, and yet it irrevocably informed and reformed my views on guns, gun violence, racial conflict, the real risks of policing, gentrification, assault rifles, and gun ownership. I am going to be telling you my story, but here is another story:
Firearm deaths are the leading cause of childhood deaths in America
My story is just one vantage point, but that 👆🏼 fact is a verifiable and devastating truth. This must change.
Parts two and more coming soon. Subscribe below if you want to read them:
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I appreciate you talking about this so much.
Looking forward to reading. You know how I feel so deeply and passionately for children, so yeah fun violence has to change. Has to.